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Let me start out by saying that this investigation into credit unions may not take as long as I originally thought in part 1. Just doing Internet searches, I found 10 in Phoenix metro. My criterion to narrow it down from there was simple geography: the proximity to Central Phoenix and the number of their locations. I did this via the most important investigative step: I found them all on the Local First Arizona website. Reviewing those I narrowed them down from five to settle on three (the links that follow are to their reviews on Local First): Arizona Central Credit Union, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, and Marisol Federal Credit Union.
I did all of this before I contacted any of the Credit Unions in person.
I then narrowed it down from three, to two, because Marisol Federal Credit Union wouldn’t pick up their phone. That’s a big deal when it comes to a bank. Before I called, I looked at their website and saw that in order to avoid fees on their accounts, the minimum balance was pretty high. I wouldn’t really save anything compared to my existing account at JPWellsComeriBank in that area. Conclusion: Marisol was out of the running.
I didn’t just pick up the phone, though, and start calling the three before I narrowed it down to two. I started with an Excel spreadsheet, naturally, where I prepared to rate each credit union according to the following categories:
- Number of ATM locations?
- Online system usability?”The online stuff is important because I don’t want to be forced to go into the bank. Who does? Small business owners want to be able to just get it done on their computers.” ~ Me
- What did their bill pay system look like (and did it cost anything)?
- Their security system (if credit card is stolen? How secure is their internal information?)
- Customer service?
- Fee structure (personal and business checking, personal and health savings?)
- Reinvest locally?
- Member of Local First Arizona?
That left two Credit Union’s worth more serious consideration: An actual physical trip to the branch.
I started with Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, before I went to Arizona Central Credit Union. In part 3 of my investigation, I’ll share those two experiences, what I decided and why. (I may even include another humorous link as a bonus. What? You didn’t see it? I’ll give you one guess which link it is…)
In part 1, I ended with an argument I often hear from people after I describe what a “normal foreclosure market” looks like. There’s always going to be some percentage of people who should not have bought a house and now they’re upside down or late on payments.
The real interesting bit we can see is that there will still be some foreclosures and short sales coming on the market. The argument I hear some people say is:
All the banks were just holding onto their houses. They just hadn’t been listed yet. You’re not seeing them in the charts and graphs you’re using as evidence.
(Much of my briefing is based on Mike Orr’s Cromford Report. A huge thanks to Mike Orr and Tina Tamboer for allowing me to use their work at my presentation and share it here as well.)
To answer those naysayers, let’s look at the “REO” (which is another way of saying “foreclosed property”, not a band who heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend…). The REO then is where the bank has already repossessed the house and is putting it on the market directly. This chart below is REO and includes everything sold between 2007 and 2012. The big blue Pac-Man looking thing on this chart is sales sold through MLS; in other words, 131,000 homes.
“Sold wholesale” means some big investor bought a bunch of homes at one time. According to the chart, there are only 961 in escrow. When people talk about where to find this mythical crop of homes held back by the bank, you would find them in “Not yet listed.” Well, that’s a whopping 3,047 –not what I would call a wave of foreclosures.
Supply is down, but it’s also increasing.
This is a very interesting thing. Look at this next graph. If you look at December 2010 (far left) all the way into the future, you see a huge drop in supply. Homes being sold by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the tiny sliver on top in gray, are few and far between and get a ton of offers when they come on the market.
The last two colors on the chart are short sales (light blue) and normal sales (darker blue).
You can see from this same graph that things are moving back up a little. Does that mean that we’re going to get back up to 35,000? No, because you’d have to have the same kind of event that put us into the recession to get back up to those numbers.
Let’s take that same thing, single family residential inventory, and look at the distressed sales.
It’s declined 77%.
That’s in terms of the active distressed listings. For those who don’t know, AWC means ‘Active With Contingencies’. Look at that chart again. See how it’s called “Distressed SFR Inventory (Excluding AWC)”? This means someone has an accepted offer on a short sale, but they’re waiting for their lender to say it’s okay to precede and close on that property. Let’s break it down a bit.
Look at the far right side of the same chart. There are 1,923 Active Distressed homes. It’s a huge decline. But this is the interesting part. Notice the top right corner of the graph, where it breaks down the percentages of the different price ranges listed.
Rather than do each price point, one at a time, let’s look at the combined total, the 81% of homes that are under $300,000. If you make another chart and take out the HUD homes, the REO’s, and the short sales, and compare those to where the normal sales have been…
…there’s basically no change since November 2011.
So what does this U-shaped area represent? I’m speculating here, but in my professional opinion, the normal sales coming back on the market comprise two types of sales: A) People who bought before 2003 or 2004 (so they are able to sell their house, get their money back, maybe make a little bit of money); or B) People who bought a house in 2008 or 2009—which was my advice to people at that time—and now they flipped it, or renovated it and put it back in the market. Those people are adding to the inventory.
The rebounding economy and stronger job numbers, plus incredibly cheap houses, are why–in this next graph–we went from a 3.7 month supply of homes to a one-month supply of homes. By “month supply of homes”, what is meant is that if you shut off the tap and prevented homes from being put on the market, how many months would it take to clear out what’s on there? In this case, it would take us one month to get from a 3.7 month supply of homes to a one-month supply of homes.
This is more drastic than, say, above $1 million homes, but all of this brings me to one point: single family homes that are affordable for most working families will continue to increase, in price and in value, in 2013. That’s even with the increase in inventory that we’ve seen here at the end of 2012.
Prices are rising. This is pretty obvious. You’ve probably heard it in the news. What wasn’t reported on the news, however, is that the rising prices in the last year are only happening at the low ends, under $150,000; far more than they’ve occurred at the high ends. Where’s my evidence? What do I draw from this conclusion? What should you conclude from it?
Stay tuned for Get Your PHX Market Briefing, part 3 where we’ll find out!
If you would like to be part of a future PHX Market Briefing, please contact me at 602-456-9388.
I was listening to the news recently. They were siting the Case-Shiller index talking about what the average home price was in America. This always seemed absurd to me. You could tell me that the average temperature in America is 75° and that doesn’t help me plan a trip. So I got to thinking, it would be great to have a sort of one-stop shop where people could come in and talk to people like Jeannie Bolger, Mike Orr, or myself.
So this past Tuesday, that’s what I did. We had a room of about 25 people. Some were buying houses, some selling them. Some were investors, some realtors, some mortgage brokers. Some were just curious. Another reason I did this was because I just wanted my friends to have this information. I know the market. I work hard to understand the market. We’ve been fighting some of the same myths over the past three years and I wanted to clear the air.
I covered several things in my presentation:
- The home delinquency rate in America and in Maricopa County
- The inventory that’s currently out there
- Some interesting trends hidden inside the data.
Much of my briefing was based on Mike Orr’s Cromford Report. (Thanks to Mike Orr and Tina Tamboer for allowing me to share their work at the presentation and here as well.) I’m a huge fan of this report. If The Cromford Report were like the Grateful Dead, I would just follow them around everywhere, like a groupie. It’s very easy to understand, has helpful visuals, and is easy to digest. Mike is not only behind The Cromford Report, he’s also the director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business.
Orr made this great statement, which he calls the Coiled Spring Theory:
The longer it takes for prices to respond, the larger prices are going to be.
I think that’s very true in the market right now. For greater Phoenix, the local average sales price per square foot, in just the last year, has seen a 30% increase in prices. Is that going to happen again this coming year? Quite possibly. And that has a lot to do with the number of homes left on the market, and where the next ones are coming from.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about delinquency. This is when people are simply late on their loans. They may foreclose. They may short sale.
I have heard the following phrase a lot over the past year:
We don’t know what the banks are hiding.
I like Mike Orr’s response to that. He says what they’re really saying is:
We’re too lazy to check.
It’s really easy to see what’s coming downstream from the banks. You can see it in several ways. First, by looking at the number of delinquency filings at the county courts. You can see who’s getting notices that they’re late on their loan and are in danger of being foreclosed. Second, you can see it in the number of trustee sales.
When you look at these numbers (see pictured graph, below), you see that Phoenix has no shadow inventory.
Below is another great snapshot of where we are.
Nevada is in a world of hurt right now. But things in Arizona are not what you have been hearing in the news over the last few years. It’s just not like that anymore for us. In fact, one of the reasons we saw the two big drops in Arizona (note the AZ drop-offs in the above graph) is that title companies got really good at processing short sales and they got us through that. So in Arizona, residential foreclosures are down.
If you want to see the big picture of why there is no shadow inventory, this next chart is a great thing to look at. I was saying it in Aug, 2011 (“If I have to hear another person predict a massive “shadow inventory” I’m going to turn green, and you wouldn’t like me when I turn green…) and I said it again this past July when I wrote about Countervailing Forces (you remember the graphic: two monopoly houses dueling with light sabers. I crack me up, sometimes.)
On this chart, that line on the bottom is the normal level at which people expect to see foreclosures in the market. There’s always going to be some percentage of people who should not have bought the house and now they’re upside down late on payments. The real interesting bit here is that based on this chart we can see that there are still going to be some things coming onto the market or those people are going to be short selling. They’ll find a way through it, but they’ll have a better chance at a better way through it then they would have three years ago.
Some people argue that I’m not looking in the right place. They’ll say,
All those banks are just holding onto their houses. They just haven’t been listed yet. You’re not seeing them in this chart.
Well those people will have to keep arguing, or holding their breath, until part 2 of this series on Get Your PHX Market Briefing. That’s when I’ll share how I answer those people and I’ll share some relevant and interesting insights about the inventory that’s actually out here in Central Phoenix.
If you would like to be part of a future PHX Market Briefing, please contact me at 602-456-9388.
[train photo: andrew_j_w] [modified with permission by Ken Clark]
“Phoenix’s Innovation and Efficiency efforts are leading the way nationally,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “As a leader of the city, I get my best ideas from listening to people. We want to put as many of the city’s best ideas forward as possible.”
This deserves a huge round of applause!
The Innovation and Efficiency Task Force went to work January 2010, with private sector members and city executives serving together. Ideas flow through the Task Force to a subcommittee and then to the full City Council. In this excellent 10-minute video the City Celebrates $59 million in Innovation and Efficiency Savings (with numerous specific examples) and announces a $100 million Goal.
“The leadership from Mayor Stanton and Councilman Gates, the full City Council, our Task Force members and hard work from city staff have created a culture of innovation,”said City Manager and Task Force creator, David Cavazos. “Innovative ideas and sound financial management are at the heart of what we do here at the city of Phoenix, and we will continue to find new ideas and solutions.”
Marty Schultz, Task Force Member, and Senior Policy Dir. Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schrek had this to say about the people in the private sector who are involved:
“They are actually very smart people who have finance backgrounds, service backgrounds, and management backgrounds, and have been able to work closely with the city staff.”
This brings to mind a string of programs Mayor Stanton and the city have initiated: In June, I told you about the unveiling of “Go Green Like Your Grocer”, a community energy efficiency showcased at AJ’s Fine Foods; in August, the innovate community-engaging website ‘My Plan Phx’ opened an opportunity for residents to help shape the future of the city through participation in updating the city’s General Plan (Conserve Create ConnectPHX), and planning for the communities along the light rail line (ReinventPHX). This short 1:30 video gives a good idea of what My Plan PHX is all about.
As a former State Legislator and the former state Energy Office Director, I have a strong understanding of energy efficiency in homes. I participated in Energize Phoenix on my property in Garfield, as have many others. That’s a significant bonus when people work with me as their agent. Of the two homes I’ve renovated in Central Phoenix, I did the Energize Phoenix program on my 1925 Arts and Crafts Bungalow. (The other home is a 1948 “war baby” tract home). I understand the attractions and challenges of old homes, as well as how to identify quality new homes. So, please let me know if I can apply my experience to help you buy or sell an energy efficient home in Phoenix.
I saw a movie recently (“Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?“), which featured our own Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona’s founder and director since its inception. We got to talking about why it’s important to consider moving to a credit union as your bank of choice.For years, I had been thinking about the prospect of closing my national bank account and opening an account at a local credit union.
Well, it is finally time and I need your help. Allow me to explain.
To start, and for the sake of this series, let’s just say that I bank with “CitWellsiBank of America.”
Like most banks, my bank charges these fees unless I carry a certain balance; difficult for a small business to do. I suspect credit unions have fees of their own. However, that money has to go somewhere, but I’d rather have it go to a local credit union and keep the money in the local economy. Did you know that when you spend your money locally, four times that amount stays in local circulation, than if you spend it on a national chain or, in this case, a bank?
Credit unions, by design, are investors in their local economy (I think you could make the case that we wouldn’t have the same damage to our economy if we were all using credit unions that weren’t too big to fail. The big banks prior to the recession were doing big credit default swaps, bundling loans (great 2-minute video clip explanation from William Hurt film, “Too Big to Fail” at the link), and selling off collateralized debt obligations.
So when I was talking to Kimber at the movie, I got to thinking about the things were holding me back and I realized that they are probably the same things that hold back other people:
Time. This is probably the biggest impediment to making the switch. My suspicion is that it’s going to take a lot of time to research credit unions, narrow it down to one, set up all of my business accounts, personal accounts, savings accounts so that it’s an exact replication of what I currently have and like. Not to mention learning new things like how to navigate their online offerings, their apps (if they have them) and how to move money around between banks the process.
Uncertainty. Will the credit union have a similar setup on its website interface? How easy will it be to get cash from a credit union with, presumably, fewer locations and ATMs. Where will I get cash if I need it? The big banks tell us we have to go to an ATM or a branch to get money, but we’re smart consumers; we know we can just visit the local supermarket and get cash back and there’s no ATM fees this way. Am I to expect the same level of trust/uncertainty when considering a relationship with a local credit unions?
Security. We’ve been duped into believing that big, national banks are the only ones who take security seriously. How often are local credit unions information compromised? We know it happens to the big banks. What measures do local credit unions take and how do they compare to the national banks?
Over the course of the next two months, I’ll be doing a series on my personal experience in setting up and moving from my big national bank to a local credit union. The first one, which you’re reading now, is defining The Problem: time, uncertainty, and security.
I’m going to do it for everyone, putting these posts up. And I’d love to have your comments as we do it. Tell me what you’ve experienced. Please help me get started by answering these questions:
1) Have you ever considered moving to a credit union?
2) What has kept you from seriously considering a credit union? What’s been holding you back? Why did you decide against a credit union?
3) What credit union do you recommend (or not recommend) and why?
I look forward to our journey together. (Read Part 2, “Credit Unions: Funnel it Down”.)
Let me tell you a few reasons why I think my new listing on Roosevelt and 10th Ave is a great opportunity.
1) It is a short sale and very well priced. There are so few short sales left. That’s good, but it also means fewer chances to get some great deals.
2) It is very close to all the great things downtown. It is close to Grand Ave. galleries and Roosevelt Row, as well as one of my favorite places to appease my sweet tooth: Treehouse Bakery.
3) It has a garage, which is rare downtown.
4) The owner did a lot of work on the kitchen, which you get to benefit from. Oh, and the wood floors look great.
5) There are two rooms, each of which has its own little den. That’s perfect for first time home buyers or renters.
This home is only $135,000 –or whatever we convince the bank to take!
Please give me call if you’d like to see it at 602-456-9388.
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